We already are heading off into 2016, and are contemplating an uncertain future, especially as the threat of terrorism looms like a low hanging cloud.
However as I sit at the old keyboard, I try to focus thoughts related to the out-of-doors. I can’t control nature either, but I tend to find it more understandable.
As one year ends and another starts, it is a time of reflection and looking forward to the future. Most everyone does it, even if only for a brief moment.
For those who love the outdoors, when we look back we can see some of the harmful things man has done to the outdoors, the environment. For example, habitat for rabbits, quail and grouse has been eliminated in much of the Midwest.
But, we also can see many positives. When I was a kid growing up in West-Central Illinois, there were no deer and turkey. Now, they are abundant throughout most Midwestern states. Elk once again flourish in eastern Kentucky, and bears also are being spotted in Kentucky and Ohio, and a few sighting have been reported in Indiana. Kentucky now has a bear hunt season.
Like hunting, fishing opportunities have changed. Those days when people caught a hundred or more fish up a creek or in a lake are gone, but overall, we have good fishing. We have more stream and lake access than ever. Most streams are much cleaner and have more game fish than 30 years ago.
We have more hiking trails, boat ramps, and campgrounds than ever.
So as we look ahead, we can think about what we can do to make a positive contribution to the future of the outdoors, so our kids and grandkids will have places to fish, hunt, boat, hike or just picnic on a warm summer day.
This New Year thinking reminds me about what several friends do to jump start the year.
“Pickled herring for health,” said Lorraine Webster, who grew up in Maine, as she talked about her family’s New Year’s tradition. “You always eat pickled herring on New Year’s Day.”
She also always places some coins in a window sill. That way, she always knows she has a little money. “it seemed to work. I never had a lot, but I always had some,” she recalled.
At the Junker house, Phyllis always cooks corned beef and cabbage, and inserts a coin in the pot during the cooking. (Probably not healthy, but a tradition.)
Several years back, I researched New Year’s and found while it is the first day of our calendar year, it hasn’t always been the case. Many ancient people started the year with harvest. They performed rituals to blot out the past and purify themselves for the new year. It originally was celebrated March 15 on the old Roman calendar. Today, people in most countries celebrate the start of a new year.
To commemorate the event, some people would put out their fires, which were a crucial part of their lives, and start new ones. In the early days, many people exchanged gifts.
Many American colonists celebrated the new year by firing guns into the air and shouting. They also visited taverns and houses to ask for drinks. Other colonists reportedly attended church services. Some people held open houses, welcoming and feeding friends and relatives. That doesn’t sound too different from today.
Many new year traditions related to food, or maybe those are the ones I relate to best.
Whether you celebrate with cabbage, black-eyed-peas, or put some change on your window sill, have a Happy New Year!